DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY
History 398 - Fall 1997
Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspectives
Write an essay of 1000-1200 words on one of the following topics.
Since history is fundamentally an empirical disipline, your response
should set forth an argument supported by specific
evidence drawn from the lectures, readings, and precept discussions
pertinent to the subject.
In Chapter 1 of The World We Have Lost, Peter Laslett describes the
baker's family as a social unit of production. He might just as well
have chosen a weaver. Using evidence from the readings, in particular
J.T. Ward's The Factory System, and from the lectures on the formation
of industrial society, describe the unit of production centered on the
traditional handloom weaver and relate what happened to it with the
introduction of the power loom.
Using evidence from the lectures and readings, identify the
participants, both seen and unseen, in the productive process pictured
above and describe how each acquired his or her functions and
responsibilities. (You will find a clearer reproduction on p. 189 of
Engines of Change.)
"The factory was more than just a
larger work unit. It was a system of production resting on a
characteristic definition of the functions and responsibilities of the
different participants in the productive process." David S. Landes,
The Unbound Prometheus
"The handmill gives you society with the feudal lord, the steam-mill,
society with the industrial capitalist." How well does this
frequently quoted statement Karl Marx's The Poverty of Philosophy
up against the historical evidence of the role of the mill in medieval
life and of the origins and development of the factory system as both
subjects have been set forth in the lectures and readings, in particular
in Marx's own analysis of the nature of "Machinery and Large-Scale
Industry" in Capital I,15?
Marx's view of industrialization was based on the experience of England.
How well does his analysis apply to early industrialization in the
United States, as set out in the readings and lectures? Your answer
should be comparative, giving specific examples of what caught Marx's
attention in England and how those examples have similar or different
counterparts in the United States.
"This paper represents my own work in accordance with
Essays are due by 3:00 PM, 17 November, in your preceptor's box in the
History Department Office, 129 Dickinson Hall.